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Tutoring-based relationships positions the learner as more like a peer than a student

© Copyright 2023. About the author: Greg Twemlow is the Founder of The Skills Studio

When it comes to formal instruction, an essential element is experiential learning from tutors. Some famous people throughout history experienced formal education this way (such as 19th-century English philosopher) John Stuart Mill. Others had it to complement schooling (such as Albert Einstein, who had several math-focused tutors outside of school). Erik Hoel, (American neuroscientist), who has written a series of excellent essays about why, since the latter part of the 20th century, we stopped making Einsteins, singled out "aristocratic tutoring" as the most crucial factor.

Aristocratic tutoring focused on something other than measurables. Historically, it usually involved a paid adult tutor, who was an expert in the field, spending significant time with a young child or teenager, instructing them but also engaging them in discussions, often in a live-in capacity, fostering both knowledge but also engagement with academic subjects and fields.

For the learner, a tutoring-based relationship positions the student as more like a peer than a student, thereby accelerating their self-confidence and awareness of their Agency. That approach enhances their engagement and enthusiasm for learning.

In ancient Rome, children of well-to-do families spent most of their time under the direct care not of their parents but of tutors, usually older and trusted male slaves, called often by the Greek term paedagogus* ("child leader"). Other Latin terms exist: comes ("companion") and custos ("guardian"). But the foreign word presumably sounded more elegant. The custom was so general by Augustus's day that when that emperor made regulations for theater seating, he assigned a section to boys (praetextati) right next to a section for their paedagogi, no doubt so the boys would be less unruly. Paedagogi were charged with constantly monitoring a youth's public behavior, in the streets, at meals, at shows, or in the atria of important men.

The importance of tutoring and experiential learning, in its more narrow definition as in actively instructing someone, is tied to a phenomenon known as Bloom's 2-sigma problem, after the educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom who in the 1980s claimed to have found that tutored students

". . . performed two standard deviations better than students who learn via conventional instructional methods—that is, "the average tutored student was above 98% of the students in the control class."

Bloom declared, "if you tailor your instruction to a single individual, you can make it fit so much better to their minds so that the average person, if tutored, would become top two in a class of a hundred."

The truth is a bit more complicated, but the effect is nevertheless proven and significant. Tutoring or facilitating, either one-on-one or in small groups, is a more reliable, and impactful method to impart knowledge and develop skills than lectures.

The Skills Studio focuses on facilitating small groups of students, usually six or less, in skills development workshops. We also offer one-on-one coaching where we feel there will be a significant benefit for the student.

*In English, pedagogue resurfaced in the late 1300s, as a synonym for schoolmaster. It thus took a Roman rather than a Greek connotation, since while Roman paedagogi did do some language teaching, their Greek counterparts did not. The pedagogue has continued his rise up the educational ladder until today, pedagogy suggests not mere instruction but sophisticated teaching techniques based on the well-proven impact of a tutor or facilitator on the pace of learning.

Pedagogy, "taken as an academic discipline, studies how knowledge and skills are imparted. Theories of pedagogy increasingly identify the student as an agent and the teacher as a facilitator." Source Wikipedia

© Copyright 2023. About the author: Greg Twemlow is the Founder of The Skills Studio